Making plans…

(Dear Doug: Spoilers.) 

Just had to make a note for my fiance–he’s been extremely supportive of my sewing and such, and has admitted to reading this on occasion to get a better understanding of why I enjoy it so much. (That, and there’s often pictures of me on here.) He knows I’m sewing The Dress, so I’ve warned him to read at his own risk. Anyway.

Thanks for all of the congratulations and encouraging comments on the last post! I know this is going to be the biggest undertaking yet. Though I don’t think it’s quite as crazy for me as it sounds. I’ve sewed formalwear before. Including the dress for my senior prom (while taking a full credit load of honors and AP classes, working a part-time job, being involved in youth group, and normal teenage social life stuff), and the dress for my masters’ degree recital (while being a full-time grad student and a TA, getting my first real batch of students outside of the university setting and still having several through the community music school there, and practicing for hours a day). So surely I can handle sewing a wedding dress when I have almost a year to do it, right? Gail in particular requested to hear what my plans are, and I was planning on posting this soon anyway! (Sorry to hear about your ring, by the way…. I hope you get it back, somehow!) So I figured I’d kick off the first in what I’m sure will be many, many posts on this particular subject with what’s inspiring me and what my plans are at the moment.

I have to admit that I wasn’t entirely in the dark that this would be coming. Doug (my fiance) had dropped some pretty strong hints that he’d be asking me sometime before the end of this year. So naturally, I’ve been pinning interesting-looking dresses on Pinterest for awhile now, in moderation. I was never one of those girls who has been planning my wedding since I was 5, especially since I spent most of my 20s questioning whether I’d ever get to have one, but there was 3 things that I always knew about The Dress:

  1. I wanted to make it myself. (Especially after having worked on one up-close and personal for one of my friends, and being rather unimpressed with the quality of materials and construction that they got for the money.)
  2. I don’t want strapless. (Which eliminates about 80% of the dresses on the market right there.) I don’t think that straight-across cut is the most flattering on me, and I do fear the wardrobe malfunction!
  3. I don’t want a train. (Which eliminates probably 95% of the dresses that would be left after the strapless cut.) I’m clumsy enough that I’d probably trip on it on my way to the aisle, and frankly, I hate the idea of the bustle. (My backside doesn’t need to look any bigger, thankyouverymuch.)
Source: via Becky on Pinterest

I was thinking at first that something along the lines of this might be neat. I liked all of those criss-crossy bits, and the ruffly-but-not-frou-frou skirt. And I know it cuts straight across, but straps can always be added to detract from that. But that would be really difficult to figure out the pattern for–lots of draping of little strips of chiffon or something, and probably not the easiest thing to do on myself. So it obviously would have had to be a toned-down version.

Two things changed my plan. The first was that I found this on Etsy:

I’m not much of a lace girl, usually. But the 4th and only other thing I knew long ago that I’d want in my wedding was sunflowers! I justified buying this by telling myself I could always be on-trend and make a lace top for myself, but I do have to admit that the thought of a wedding dress was kind of in the back of my mind. So I have 3 yards of this stuff, all washed up and ready to go.
The second was Sewaholic’s Cambie dress. As soon as I saw that, I knew that the bodice cut and especially the cap sleeves would be the perfect way to use this lace. I’m thinking an overlay on the bodice and by itself on the caps. And a border around the hem, if I can swing it.  So tell me–is this not the long wedding version of the Cambie?

Thought so.

I am planning on changing some things in the pattern. The length, obviously, since I’m traditional enough to want a long dress. And I think I’m going to do some big box pleats in the skirt instead of the gathering. Once I factor in any structural aids like boning, and underlining and lining the skirt, I’m not going to want that much gathered in around my waist, so I’d like it to be sleeker. Either that, or just a smooth A-line, though I’m leaning more towards the pleats since it would add some skirt fullness. I take big steps when I walk, so ease of movement would be good.

I’m also very strongly considering adding some color into my dress–with this design, most likely as the waistband. (And possibly fun with lining.) We’re doing green as one of our wedding colors, since it’s his favorite. And if you’ve been around this blog for any length of time and seen my usual fabric palettes…well, you can probably guess that green is one of my favorites too. Doug also requested that I make him a tie for the wedding day, so I think it would be kind of cute to use the same fabric for his tie and my whatever color bit.

Where I’m a little stuck so far is what, exactly, to do with the back. I’ve long liked the corset-laced look, and that would have a definite fitting advantage since I could just keep it a little looser if needed, or (more likely scenario) if I’m so stressed out from all of the last-minute details of wedding planning and getting ready to move and whatever is going on at work that I’m too nauseous to eat half the time, I can just tighten it up more. So maybe something like this… 

But, you know, with the cap sleeves extended down and the corset would end higher and there might be green at the waist. And no train. (But hey, it’s got the pleats!) I do have one pattern already that would help me to get that look with the Cambie bodice front, with some modifications.

I love the modernized corset-look of this one:  
And I did find a pattern that’s very similar. Minus that big butt bow, which again, I don’t need. The main thing I’m not sure about with that one is how to handle the cap sleeve back. There would pretty much have to be a lot of redrafting. 

I have been playing around with my croquis a bit to try and refine my ideas, and to play around with different skirt options and the straight across vs. sweetheart neckline. So the silhouette I’m leaning most towards is the one to the left, with the original bodice and the pleated skirt.

The back is still the tricky part. My sketching skills don’t make the middle look that great, but I do still like the openness of it. But I suspect that the pattern will be easier to modify and manipulate if I do the one all the way to the left with the more straight-across back. (Minus, you know, building in a corset. On the plus side, that would be a lot easier to build structure into than a dress with an additional slant for a v-neck back.)

So that’s where I’m at so far. If I can manage to get the Vogue pattern on sale, I seriously might just play with two bodice muslins and see which one I like better when it’s on.

In the meantime, while I ponder these design choices, I have some reading and research to do.


10 thoughts on “Making plans…

  1. I'm so excited for you! I love your sketches and design ideas. You can always delegate many other aspects of the wedding planning and concentrate on making something you'll love.


  2. This is going to be so exciting to follow! I really like your ideas, particularly not going for strapless, I'm so over that trend. The Cambie bodice is great and I think it will work great for a wedding dress.


  3. I'm feeling very mother of the bride about this! I love both style options. The cambie dress will be a great base and I love the idea of lowering the back. So elegant. Another option that you may not have considered is to use sections of the lace on sheer netting at the back. I saw a wonderful green lace gown on Kate Middleton that used this approach. See the blog What Kate Wore.


  4. Do the colour thing! My sister and her husband did that with orange, which is their favourite colour and not exactly a traditional wedding colour either, and it made it special and their own and fabulous.

    What about doing something in between in the back? As in, not straight across, more like a slightly V-shaped/heart-shaped dip in to mirror the front?


  5. Ooh, lovely ideas! That lace looks beautiful!

    I've been thinking about wedding dresses a bit, too (nothing definite in the works, but one of these days…) and my current favorite is also a lace Cambie! With fake dozens-of-tiny-buttons a la Duchess Kate in the back. 😀 I really like the corset look, too. Can't wait to see what you'll chose!


  6. Congratulations on your engagement Becky and Doug!! How exciting for you both! I love all your dress plans, and am looking forward to seeing what decision you make…. 🙂


  7. Congratulations! I'm only just catching up on my blog reading and – wow what fabulous news!

    The last photo you posted reminded me of the back of New Look 6401 – although the pattern has a little bit of a train and quite a deep “v” in front.

    Have you thought about going to the bridal shop just to try a few styles on? I thought I wanted a halterneck dress but when I tried it on, it just didn't work for me. You could have some fun dressing up at the shop and it might help you choose a pattern!


  8. This is an exciting project! My gown is getting sheer cap sleeves put on. It was originally a sweet heart strapless top, but I wanted a sleeve, and wasnt crazy about the lace jacket the company paired it with

    I LOVE the 2nd one you posted. It would really work well with your lace. I'm also a huge fan of color on gowns too. I've seen some really cute colored slips on etsy.

    The top looks to me like it would maybe have a keyhole back with that style sleeve.

    But corset backs are so fun to wear. Are you doing a veil?

    I like the idea of a box pleat skirt. This gown has that, and I think it makes for a really nice clean line.


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